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The Grey Squirrel

The Grey Squirrel

Grey squirrels frequently enter attics and become pests, and outdoors, they can cause considerable damage to electrical and telephone cables; they can cause some serious damage and pose a serious fire risk.

RECOGNITION

Adults with head and body length about 6- 15″ (15.2-38.1 cm) and tail length 4-14″ (10.2-36.6 cm); weight 6 oz-3 Ibs (170-1360.8 g). Color white, grayish, yellowish, reddish, or brownish above with belly pale or dark. Head and body covered with short, thick fur and tail bushy, with long hair, and longer than head and body combined. Skull with 20 or 22 teeth.

Usually Nesting in late june or July but have been known as late as August producing upto 4 babies.

 

Fox

Fox (Vulpes vulpes) is the most widely distributed and populous dogs in the world, having colonised large parts of Europe. It was also introduced into Australia in the 1800’s for recreational hunting although some sources suggest it was to help control the spread of Rabbits.

 

Foxes in the uk have become remarkably resourceful creatures, able to cope in a very wide range of different environmental conditions, from the hussle and bussle of our city life to the more quiet majestic country towns. The fox is able to find food shelter and stay warm.

 

In the UK the red fox feeds mainly on small rodents such as field mice, rabbits and voles but will eat almost anything it finds, often eating carrion or preying on new-born lambs in the spring. This resourcefulness is one of the main reasons they’ve been able to populate our towns and cities with great success. They are superb hunters, able to sprint, turn and jump with surprising ease for dog.

Foxes are the smallest members of the dog family, with the adult red fox being around 75cm long from head to tail and weighing around five kilograms fully grown. Environmental conditions determine how long a wild fox lives, usually around 7-10 years but in captivity they can live to a similar age as pet dogs at around 15 years.

Red Foxes mate during the winter months with the pair staying together to act as parents to the new born kits after a gestation period of between 51 and 53 days. The kits are born blind and stay in the den for several weeks before venturing out to play and follow their parents, after three months the cubs are left to fend for themselves, helped by the abundance of food to be found during the long summer months, they receive sexual maturity roughly a year after birth.

Foxes are considered a pest by many farmers although it is difficult to judge their impact on the land, they do provide a service in keeping rabbit and rat numbers in check and are thought to only go after ill and dead lambs. The banning of fox hunting in the UK could actually bring a downturn in foxes due to the potential for increasing numbers being shot or poisoned as hunting never took a major toll on numbers.

The fox is not under threat in any of its range due to the ability to cope well around humans, with urban foxes keeping up mystique of being clever and cunning by being able to eke out a living even in central London and other urban centres. They unfortunately can cause a problem when they are seen at schools parks and playgrounds. With them constantly marking their territory this can lead to the spread of disease through contact.

Rabbits

Rabbits (Orytolagus cuniculus) originated from Spain and South-West France. The rabbit was brought to England in the 12th century AD by the Normans and kept in captivity in warrens as a source of meat and fur.

 

Many escaped into the wild and eventually become so common that farming them was no longer economic. Because of their fast breeding, a diet of virtually any vegetable matter.  The rabbit slowly established itself in the wild in Britain. These large rodents can cause a serious amount of damage not only to crops but also the hedge line they are to protect.

In the 1950s, the disease myxomatosis was introduced to curb their numbers and the rabbit almost became extinct, however, it is once again a common animal of the British countryside although it can be a serious pest for farmers for eating and damaging crops.The main predators of rabbits are the stoat and the fox, although young rabbits also fall to birds of prey and weasels.The rabbit pre-breeding season population is estimated to be 39 million.

Male rabbits are called  bucks and the female a doe. Rabbits generally measure 40 – 45 centimetres in length and have ears that measure 8.5 centimetres long. They have compact bodies with long, powerful hind legs. And usually can be identified by the white tale when running in the opposite direction to you.

RABBIT HABITATS

Rabbits are ground dwellers that live in environments ranging from very sandy pasture to your typical forest and wetland. The rabbit occupies open landscapes such as fields, parks and gardens. Rabbits are abundant in grassland areas where the soil allows them to make extensive, well-drained burrows, but also where there are hedges or patches of woodland to give shelter and cover.

RABBIT DIET

Rabbits are herbivores who feed by grazing on grass, forbs and leafy weeds, however, they will also eat all vegetable matter and gnaw tree bark in winter months. Rabbits re-swallow up to 80% of their faeces to use their food more efficiently in a process known as ‘refection’.

 

Rabbits graze heavily and rapidly for roughly the first half hour of a grazing period (usually in the late afternoon), followed by more selective feeding. In this time, the rabbit will also excrete many hard faecal pellets, being waste pellets that will not be reingested Rabbits are incapable of vomiting due to the physiology of their digestive system.

RABBIT BEHAVIOUR

Rabbit constructs the most extensive burrow systems, called warrens. Warren tunnels can be 1 – 2 metres long. The nest at the end of the tunnel is lined with grass, moss and belly fur. They use regular trails, which they scent mark with faecal pellets. They are very sociable creatures sometimes forming groups in warrens of up to 20 individuals.Rabbits are active throughout the year, no species is known to hibernate. Rabbits are generally nocturnal and they also are relatively silent. Other than loud screams when frightened or caught by a predator, the only sound signal known for most species is a loud foot thump made to indicate alarm or aggression.Instead of sound, scent seems to play an important role in the communication systems of most rabbits. They possess well-developed glands throughout their body and rub them on fixed objects to convey group identity, sex, age, social and reproductive status and territory ownership. Urine is also used in chemical communication. When danger is perceived, the general tendency of rabbits is to freeze and hide under cover. If chased by a predator, they engage in quick, irregular movement, designed more to evade and confuse than to outdistance a pursuer.

 

RABBIT REPRODUCTION

Rabbits generally are able to breed at a young age and many regularly produce litters of up to 7 young, often doing so 4 or 5 times a year due to the fact that a rabbits gestation period is only 28 to 31 days. Newborn rabbits are naked, blind and helpless at birth. Mothers are remarkably inattentive to their young and are almost absentee parents, commonly nursing their young only once per day and for just a few minutes. To overcome this lack of attention, the milk of rabbits is highly nutritious and among the richest of all mammals. The young grow rapidly and most are weaned in about a month.

Males (bucks) do not assist in rearing the kittens. The mother rabbit is able to become pregnant again 4 days after the birth of her kittens. Rabbits have an average life span of up to 9 years.

Cockroaches

American Cockroach

Description

Family: Blattidae

Scientific Name: Periplaneta Americana

Special characteristics:

Adult, 28-44mm long; colour, red-brown with yellow border around pronotum; no yellow submarginal stripes on forewings; last segment of cerci, twice as long as wide. Gregarious and nocturnal, they spend the day hiding in cracks and crevices. Generally prefer warmer humid environments.

Habitat

Common in commercial premises associated with the production of handling food. They spend the day hiding in around areas such as sinks, drains, cookers, backs of cupboards and in refrigerator motor compartments. They especially favour buildings with service ducts and complex plumbing installations. B. orientalis and B.germanica are the most common species in Northern Europe. P. Americana and P. Australasia are tropical and sub-tropical species but also found in ports and shipping areas in temperate climates.

 

Biology and Behaviour

Generally 2 pairs of wings, although these may be reduced or even absent. Potential vector of diseases such as dysentery, gastroenteritis, typhoid and poliomyelitis. Their diet is omnivorous and includes fermenting substances, soiled septic dressing, hair, leather, parchment, wallpaper, faeces and food for human consumption.

 

Australian Cockroach

Description

Family: Blattidae

Scientific Name: Periplaneta australasiae

Special characteristics:

Adult, 30-35mm long; colour, light brown with ivory-yellow circular band enclosing large, distinct, bilobed black spot; yellow submarginal stripe at base of forewings. Gregarious and nocturnal, they spend the day hiding in cracks and crevices. Generally prefer warmer humid environments.

 

Habitat

Common in commercial premises associated with the production of handling food. They spend the day hiding in around areas such as sinks, drains, cookers, backs of cupboards and in refrigerator motor compartments. They especially favour buildings with service ducts and complex plumbing installations. B. orientalis and B.germanica are the most common species in Northern Europe. P. Americana and P. Australasia are tropical and sub-tropical species but also found in ports and shipping areas in temperate climates.

 

Biology and Behaviour

Generally 2 pairs of wings, although these may be reduced or even absent. Potential vector of diseases such as dysentery, gastroenteritis, typhoid and poliomyelitis. Their diet is omnivorous and includes fermenting substances, soiled septic dressing, hair, leather, parchment, wallpaper, faeces and food for human consumption.

 

German cockroach

Description

Family: Blattidae

Scientific Name: Blattella germanica

Special characteristics:

Adults, 10-15mm long; colour, yellowish-brown with two longitudinal dark marks on pronotum; wings well developed in both sexes; can readily climb rough and polished vertical surfaces. Gregarious and nocturnal, they spend the day hiding in cracks and crevices. Generally prefer warmer humid environments.

 

Habitat

Common in commercial premises associated with the production of handling food. They spend the day hiding in around areas such as sinks, drains, cookers, backs of cupboards and in refrigerator motor compartments. They especially favour buildings with service ducts and complex plumbing installations. B. orientalis and B.germanica are the most common species in Northern Europe. P. Americana and P. Australasia are tropical and sub-tropical species but also found in ports and shipping areas in temperate climates.

 

Biology and Behaviour

Generally 2 pairs of wings, although these may be reduced or even absent. Potential vector of diseases such as dysentery, gastroenteritis, typhoid and poliomyelitis. Their diet is omnivorous and includes fermenting substances, soiled septic dressing, hair, leather, parchment, wallpaper, faeces and food for human consumption.

 

Oriental Cockroach

Description

Family: Blattidae

Scientific Name: Blatta orientalis

Special characteristics:

Adults, 20-24mm long; colour, dark-brown, nearly black; wings of male cover two-thirds of abdomen, wings of female are vestigial; can climb rough but not smooth vertical surfaces. Gregarious and nocturnal, they spend the day hiding in cracks and crevices. Generally prefer warmer humid environments.

 

Habitat

Common in commercial premises associated with the production of handling food. They spend the day hiding in around areas such as sinks, drains, cookers, backs of cupboards and in refrigerator motor compartments. They especially favour buildings with service ducts and complex plumbing installations. B. orientalis and B.germanica are the most common species in Northern Europe. P. Americana and P. Australasia are tropical and sub-tropical species but also found in ports and shipping areas in temperate climates.

 

Biology and Behaviour

Generally 2 pairs of wings, although these may be reduced or even absent. Potential vector of diseases such as dysentery, gastroenteritis, typhoid and poliomyelitis. Their diet is omnivorous and includes fermenting substances, soiled septic dressing, hair, leather, parchment, wallpaper, faeces and food for human consumption.

 

Wasps honey bees and Bumble bees

 

Honey Bees

Adult worker’s body length about 1/2-5/8″ (11-15 mm). Color usually orangish brown to sometimes black, gaster (enlarged rear portion of abdomen) broadly banded with orange and brown or brown and black; with body mostly covered with branched, pale hairs, most dense on thorax. Eyes hairy. First segment of hind tarsus enlarged, flattened. In addition, hind tibiae lack apical spurs; front wing venation with marginal cell narrow, parallel-sided, and 3rd submarginal cell oblique; hind wings with jugal lobe (lobe on rear margin near body). Barbed stinger present.

 

Queens slightly larger, about 5/8-3/4″ (15-20 mm) long, pointed abdomen extends well beyond wing tips, with smooth stinger. Males or drones robust, about 5/8″ (15-17 mm) long, stinger absent.

BIOLOGY

 

Honey bees are social insects and live as colonies in hives, with mature colonies of 20,000-80,000 individuals. Adults are represented by workers which are infertile females, a queen or inseminated female, and drones (males) which come from unfertilized eggs.

 

The entire population overwinters. There is only one egg-laying queen in the hive and she mates only once. She can lay as many as 1,500 to 2,000 eggs per day, and may live as long as 5 years. The queen produces many pheromones, mostly from her mandibular glands, which regulate among other things the production of new queens and inhibit development of worker ovaries. The young workers care for the young or brood, build the comb, provide hive ventilation, and guard the hive entrance. Older workers serve as foragers to gather pollen, nectar, and propolis or bee glue. Workers live only about 5 to 7 weeks during the summer but those emerging in the autumn, over winter. Drones (males) appear periodically and are short lived, usually living only a few  weeks.

 

Honey bees swarm primarily when the colony size gets too large for the available hive space or the queen begins to wane or fail. New queens are produced and the old queen leaves with a large number of workers.  Honey bee colony usually swarms only once each 12 months.

 

HABITS

Honey bees are not aggressive, and do not search for something to attack. Instead, they are defensive and will attack only whatever seems to threaten the colony.

Swarms first move to a temporary site such as a tree branch. The swarm will usually remain here for about 24-48 hours until permanent quarters are located, and then moves on. Permanent quarters may consist of a bee hive, hollow tree, hollow wall, attic, etc., typically some place which is sheltered from the weather.

 

Bees in a swarm are very docile and not likely to sting because they harbor no food stores or young and therefore, have nothing to defend. Likewise, honey bees encountered away from the hive are unlikely to sting unless severely provoked, like stepping on them. However, if the hive entrance is approached, the guard bees can become very aggressive; do not approach hives without proper protection. Worker bees have barbed stingers and when used, the stinger, poison sac, and associated tissue are torn from the body. If the stinger is not removed immediately, muscle contractions will drive the stinger deeper and deeper into the skin and there is greater time for toxin injection. In addition, the stinger gives off a pheromone which attracts other bees and induces an alarm and attack behaviour.

European Hornet

Identification

Adults large, about 3/4-1 3/8″ (20-35 mm) long. Color brown with yellow abdominal stripes and pale face. Head with clypeus (upper lip) broadly truncate, slightly notched at apex; vertex (top of head) extending greatly above/behind compound eyes with distance between lateral ocellus and occipital carina (back of head) much greater than distance between lateral ocelli. Hind wing without a jugal lobe  (lobe on rear near body). Pronotum in lateral view almost triangular, extending to tegulae (structure at base of front wing) or nearly so. Middle tibia with 2 apical spurs. Unprotected nests with brown envelope, comb brown.

BIOLOGY

European hornets are social insects which live in colonies or nests. The adults are represented by workers which are sterile females, queens, and males which come from unfertilized eggs and usually appear in the late summer. Only inseminated females over winter and do so in sheltered places. In the spring, she uses chewed-up/masticated cellulose from decayed wood to build a paper carton nest of several dozen cells which is usually covered with a paper envelope. One egg is laid in each cell and the queen feeds the developing larvae arthropod protein material and nectar. After about 30 days, the first 5 to 7 workers emerge and shortly there- after take over all the work except egg laying. The queen will be attended by several workers. The typical nest will eventually consist of 6-9 paper combs which are open ventrally and attached one below another. If the nest is unprotected it will be covered with a many-layered paper envelope, but if it is sheltered, little or no envelope may be present. A typical mature nest will contain 1,500- 3,000 cells in 6-9 combs; the record is 33 combs containing 5,566 cells. At its peak, a large colony will contain about 1,000 workers but typical colonies contain 200-400 workers at their peak. Later in the season, larger reproductive cells are built in which queens and males will be reared; males are often reared in old worker cells. The colony is then entering the declining phase. The newly emerged queens and males leave the nest and mate. Only inseminated females hibernate and survive the winter. The founding queen, the workers, and the males all die.

HABITS

The overwintered female selects the nesting site. Typically, European hornets nest in hollow trees, barns, out buildings, hollow walls of houses, attics, and abandoned bee hives. Unprotected nests are covered with a brown envelope, brown because they use cellulose from decayed wood.

Workers are predators on a variety of large insects such as grasshoppers and other orthopterans, flies, wasps, and honey bees. Workers will girdle twigs  and branches of numerous shrubs and trees, including birch, ash, dogwood, rhododendron, boxwood, lilac, and horsechestnut. This girdling is done to feed on the sap, but it can result in the death of the plant.

European hornets fly during the day, but workers also fly at night and are attracted to lights, as are males. They can cause concern to the occupants when they repeatedly bang on lighted windows at night.

In general, the European hornet is a forest dwelling species. It therefore has little opportunity to be a stinging hazard. It is relatively non-aggressive around its nest.

CONTROL

European hornets are beneficial insects by helping to control many pest insect species. However, if the nest is located close to or within a structure, or in a recreational/camping area, then control is warranted. Just changing the exterior lights to yellow bulbs may solve the night-time problem. Decrease the attractiveness by promptly removing any fallen fruit from ornamental trees.

Wasps

They are worldwide in distribution.

 

Identification

Adult workers about 3/8-5/8″ (10-16 mm) long depending on the species, with their respective queens about 25% longer. Abdomen usually banded with yellow and black.  Wings folded longitudinally at rest. In addition, pronotum in lateral view almost triangular, extending to tegula (structure at base of front wing) or nearly so; front wing 1st discoidal cell about half wing length; hind wing lacks jugal lobe (lobe on rear margin near body); clypeus (front lip) broadly truncate and slightly notched; middle tibiae with 2 apical spurs.

BIOLOGY

Wasps are social insects and live in nests or colonies. The adults are represented by workers that are sterile females, queens, and males which come from unfertilized eggs and usually appear in late summer.Typically, only inseminated queens over winter and do so in sheltered places. In the spring, she uses chewed-up cellulose material to construct a golf ball-sized paper carton nest of a few cells which will eventually consist of 30 to 55 cells covered by a paper envelope. One egg is laid in each cell and the queen feeds the developing larvae arthropod protein material and nectar. After about 30 days, the first 5 to 7 workers emerge and shortly thereafter take over all the work except egg laying. The nest will eventually consist of a number of rounded paper combs which are open ventrally and attached one below another, and are usually covered with a many-layered paper envelope. Nest size varies from 300 to 120,000 cells, averaging 2,000 to 6,000 cells, and usually contains 1,000 to 4,000 workers at its peak. Later in the season, larger reproductive cells are built in which queens will be reared; males are usually reared in old worker cells. The colony is then entering the declining phase. The newly emerged queens and males leave the nest and mate. Only the inseminated females hibernate and survive the winter. The founding queen, the workers, and the males all die.

HABITS

Depending on the species, the overwintered queen will usually select either a subterranean or aerial nesting site. Most of the pest species are ground nesting where their soccer ball to basket ball-sized paper nests are usually suspended from overlying plant roots, logs, or landscape timbers. The German wasps usually nests in large (6- 12 cu ft/0.17-0.34 cu m) structural voids in buildings in the Uk wasps occasionally nests in buildings. The Norwegian wasps commonly attaches its nest to shrubs, bushes, houses, garages, sheds, etc.

 

Those nesting in the ground typically select areas bare of vegetation or else clear an area around the entrance. There are nest entrance guards to protect the colony. Wasps are very slow to sting unless the nest entrance is approached and then they are quite aggressive. Each can sting a number of times, inflicting much pain. Some people become hypersensitive to their stings and future stings can become life threatening. Those nesting in or on buildings are only a problem when the nest or nest entrance is located near human activity. Overwintering queens may enter the living space during the winter seeking warmth, or in the spring when they are looking for a nest site or just trying to get back outside.

Bumble bee possibly comes from their rather large, clumsy appearance and/or the buzzing sound they make as they fly. In the urban setting, bumble bees do not usually nest in structures but are of concern because of their abundance around the many flowering plants typical of yards, and can sting.

Identification

Adult worker body length about 1/4-1″ (6-25 mm), queens about 3/4-1″ (17-25 mm) long; robust in form. Color black with yellow (rarely orange) markings; with overall fuzzy/hairy appearance, including top surface of abdomen. Head with distinct space between base of compound eye and base of mandible. Antenna 12-segmented in female, 13-segmented in male. Hind tibia with apical spurs. Front wing with 2nd submar- ginal cell more or less rectangular, about as long as 1st submarginal cell. Hind  wing lacks a jugal lobe (lobe on rear margin near body). Male abdomen with tip rounded; female abdomen with tip pointed, stinger relatively smooth, with small barbs.

 

In addition, female Bombus with hind tibia modified into pollen basket (surface bare and polished, marginal hair fringe) whereas, Psithyrus lacks pollen basket, hind tibia slender.

Carpenter bees (Xylocopa spp.) with top surface of abdomen largely bare and shining, front wing with 2nd submarginal cell triangular, and hind wing with jugal lobe (lobe on rear margin near body).

BIOLOGY

Bumble bees are social insects which live in nests or colonies. The adults are represented by workers (Psithyrus spp. lack workers) which are sterile females, queens, and males (drones) which come from unfertilized eggs and usually appear in late summer.

 

Typically, only inseminated queens over winter and do so underground. In the spring, the queens of Psithyrus species wait until the Bombus nests are moderate in size and then parasitize them. The Bombus queens select a  suitable  subterranean  cavity  or surface grass clump as a nesting site. Then the Bombus queen fashions a honey pot of wax scales near the nest entrance into which she regurgitates nectar. Next she makes a pollen clump on the nest floor and lays 8-10 eggs on it. The queen will periodically add pollen and nectar to the peripheral edges of the clump, and eventually more eggs. Developmental time (egg to adult) is 16-25 days, with 4 larval molts. Workers live about 2 weeks. Most first brood workers are small due to nutrition. The queen will increase the number of eggs laid as the number of workers to care for them increases.During the summer, parasitism may eliminate up to 50% of the colony’s workers each week. However, a mature bumble bee nest ultimately contains about 50-400 bees at any given time; the largest known nest contained 756 bees and 385 brood (larvae and pupae).

The nest temperature is regulated to about 86° F (30° C). This thermoregulation is accomplished by the bee relaxing the 3rd axillary muscle to its wings which unhinges the wings from the main power-producing thoracic muscles. Then contractions of these large muscles produces body heat without wing movement.

In the late summer only males (drones) and new queens are reared in the nest. Once these new females emerge, they mate and find a suitable place to over winter. The males, workers, old queen, and any virgin new females die with the onset of cold weather.

HABITS

Depending on the Bombus species, the overwintering queen will select an appropriate nesting site the following spring. The queen of some Bombus species locate a dark cavity at least 3/4″ (2 cm) high by 1 1/8″ (3 cm) wide containing fine plant fiber; such a nest is usually underground and often an abandoned mouse nest. Queens of other Bombus species select a dense clump of grass on the surface for a nest, adding grass on top. The queens of Psithyrus species are all parasitic on Bombus nests, so they bide their time until the Bombus nests are moderate in size and can therefore support them. They then enter the nest, kill the Bombus queen, and take over the nest using the Bombus workers to care for her young. Bombus queens of later emerging Bombus species sometimes also parasitize the nests of earlier emerging Bombus species.

Bumble bees foraging for nectar fly at 7-12 mph (11-20 km/hr) and spend only 2-4 minutes inside the nest between trips. Probably they will travel at least 3 mi (5 km) if necessary for nectar. They orientate by the sky’s polarized light via their 3 ocelli, so they can forage before and after light when objects and landmarks are not visible. They use their theromoregulation procedure to warm up flight muscles before the sun rises and to also forage when temperatures are below 50° F (10° C; lowest observed flight  at 26° F/-3.60 C) whereas, most bees stop foraging at 61° F (16° C). Each worker forages independently, and bumble bees never exchange food. Old cocoons are used to store both pollen and nectar.

Defense is usually accomplished using their relatively smooth stingers that can be used over and over. Some species will also spray feces, and some cover the intruder with regurgitated honey. People sensitive to insect venom should exercise care around bumble bee nests.

 

Bed Bug 

Common Bed Bug

Description

Family: Cimicidae

Scientific Name: Cimex lectularius

Special characteristics:

Blood feeding bugs of man and warm blooded animals. Some blood feeding bugs such as Pigeon Bug (Cimex columbarius) can be found infesting bird nests and bat roosts, but can invade houses and attack humans.

 

Habitat

Found in human habitations throughout the world. In hotels/motels, the number one place for infestations is the backside of headboards mounted on walls; these must be removed for inspection. Typically, initial infestations of bed bugs are found associated with the bed such as around mattress buttons and beading, in boxsprings or their coverings, and in any crevice of a wooden bed frame, such as where members join. They are particularly fond of wood and fabrics as opposed to plastic and metal.

 

Eventually, other places are infested including wall hangings such as picture frames and mirrors, night stands, stuffed furniture (especially if used for sleeping), baseboards, floorboard cracks, behind loose wallpaper, light switches, door and window frames, curtains/drapes, under carpets between the tac-strip and baseboard, conduits, etc. Clutter is a bed bug’s best friend and must be eliminated. In heavier infestations, bed bugs may be found in telephones, radios/CD players, clocks, televisions, in items stored under beds, wall voids, electrical outlet boxes, attics, and other enclosed places. In addition, a few bugs and/or eggs can often be found in areas distant from the bed on the other side of the room. They will crawl distances in excess of 100 feet (30 m) to obtain a blood meal. If left untreated, the infestation will spread to adjoining rooms and/or apartments; think/inspect in 3 dimensions.

 

Because of their hitchhiking abilities, they can be introduced into a structure via used furniture or in the belongings of someone who has been living in or visiting a bed bug infested situation. Adults can survive for up to one year if they are well fed. In the absence of humans, bed bugs will feed on any warm-blooded animal including poultry, canaries, English sparrows, mice, rats, bats, and household pets such as guinea pigs and dogs. When the temperature falls below 61°F/16°C, adults enter semihibernation and can survive for months.

 

Bed bug infestations have been found in transportation vehicles such as boats, trains, airplanes, and buses as well as in movie theaters where they typically harborage in seats and associated frames.

 

Presently, most infestations are encountered in hotels/motels (all levels of prestige), youth hostels, shelters, and dormitories, probably because of the transient nature of occupation and student visitation habits in dormitories. In these situations, infestations may become widespread, but customer/resident complaints usually prevent them from becoming very severe before professional help is sought. Apartments and single-family residences are a distant second, but infestations here can build up to tremendous numbers before professional help is sought.

 

The primary clues to an infestation will be the presence of small red to reddish brown fecal spots clustered on surfaces near harborages, bed bug molt skins, their eggs or empty egg shells, and/or bed bugs themselves. In very heavy infestations, the characteristic obnoxiously sweet bed bug odor may be detected.

Biology and Behaviour

Adults are 5mm in length, reddish-brown in colour, becoming purple after feeding, well developed antennae, with clawed feet which can climb rough surfaces better than smooth ones. Bed Bugs are exclusively bloodsucking.

Flea

 

Flea

Description

Family: Boreidae

Scientific Name: Ctenocephalides felis (cat flea), Ctenocephalides canis (dog flea), Pulex irritans (Human flea), Spilopsyllus cuniculi (rabbit flea), Xenopsylla cheopis (tropical rat flea), Archaeopsyllus erinacei (hedgehog flea), ceratophyllus gallinae (bird flea), Hystrichopsylla talpae (mole flea).

 

Special characteristics:

Cat Flea Adults, 2-3.25mm long; forepart of head longer than it is high; prominent pronotal and genal combs (first teeth of genal comb nearly as long as second); basal section of legs equipped with stout spines. Dog Flea Adults, 2-3.25mm long; forepart of head as long as it is high; prominent pronotal and genal combs (first teeth of genal comb only about half as long as second); basal section of legs equipped with stout spines. Host/habitat: especially members of Canidae family, also domestic animals and man; found particularly in host bedding. Human Flea Adults, 2-3.5mm long; no pronotal or genal comb; basal section of legs equipped with stout spines. Host/habitat: especially man, but will also breed on pigs, hedgehogs, foxes and badgers; found in homes, usually in bedrooms. Rabbit Flea Adults, 1.5-2.25mm long; pronotal and genal combs, the latter with five vertically arranged rounded spines; basal section of legs equipped with stout spines. Host/habitat: especially rabbits in whom it is the main vector of the myxomatosis virus, but will also attack cats; the females are sedentary and attach themselves to the host, especially around the ears and head. Tropical Rat Flea Adults 1.5-2.5mm long; no pronotal or genal comb; row of bristles along back of head; basal section of legs equipped with stout spines. Host/habitat: various rodents, but will also attack man; found especially around ports. Hedgehog Flea Adults 2-3.5mm long; genal comb of 1-3 short spines; pronotal comb of 2-9 spines. Host/habitat: generally associated with hedgehogs, but occasionally brought indoors by dogs, cats and humans; also found in gardens and outbuildings. Bird Flea Adults 2-2.5mm long; no head folds to retain antennae; pronotal comb with more than 24 teeth; no genal comb, no spines on basal section of legs. Host/habitat: especially birds nesting in dry situations but will also attack animals and man; breeding mostly limited to birds’ breeding season, migrating from the nests when fledglings leave. Often originating from birds’ nests in roof spaces. Mole Flea Adults 3.5-6mm long; genal comb of 9-12 spines; pronotal comb of 42-58 spines. Host/habitat: associated with moles; also found in gardens and outbuildings.

 

Habitat

Fleas are most commonly found on mammals, although birds may also be attacked. They show a certain degree of host preference, but are by no means host specific and will feed on other animals in the absence of the normal host. Fleas are commonly found around the world

 

Biology and Behaviour

Adults are 1-8mm in length; brownish in colour. The larvae require precise conditions which are associated with the habitats and nesting habits of the hosts rather than the characteristics of their blood.

Ants

Argentine Ants

Description

Family: Formicidae

Scientific Name: Linepithema humile

 

Special characteristics:

Invasive species favouring warm climates or heated environments. Not frost hardy.

Description

Family: Formicidae

Scientific Name: Linepithema humile

 

Habitat

Prefer a sweet food source such as honeydew, but will also forage on proteins such as meat, insects, eggs and fat.

Biology and Behaviour

Argentine Ants are typically brown/light brown, with an uneven thorax, 12-segmented antennae, no stinger, the workers are 3-3.5mm long. In a single colony there may be multiple queens (polygenic), and the workers interact between nests, which enables them to form ‘super colonies’. The queens can be replaced so colonies survive indefinitely. New colonies may be encouraged by disturbing the nests.

Black Ants

Description

Family: Formicaide

Scientific Name: Lasius niger

Special characteristics:

Nests outdoors and enters houses regularly in search of food, preferably sweet foods.

Habitat

An active insect, it nests outside in grass and walls and under paving. It will forage widely in search of food, which is how it comes to enter domestic premises.

Biology and Behaviour

Workers dark brown-black, queens mid brown. Workers 3-5mm long, queens (characterised by 2 pairs of membranous wings, fore and hind wings hooked together) 15mm long. Individual ants are responsible for specialised duties within their community. The worker ants (sterile females) build the nest, look after larvae, and forage for food. The queens (fertile females) remain mainly in the nest, mating with fertile males. Swarms involve large numbers of ants but only tend to persist for 2-3 hours. The males die after mating, but the females shed their wings and burrow in the ground where they overwinter.

Ghost Ants

Description

Family: Formicidae

Scientific Name: Tapinoma melanocephalum

Special characteristics:

Invasive species which tend to prefer warmer wet habitats, and forage on all kinds of nutrients but favours sweet food.

 

Habitat

Indoor ghost ants nest in Europe and prefer warmer habitats due to their high moisture needs, and often trails can lead to sinks, baths, toilets and showers. The nests are often located within wall voids, behind skirting boards, or in potted plant soil. Workers run rapidly and erratically, trailing along edges and corners.

Biology and Behaviour

Very small ants, the workers are 2mm long, with a pale abdomen hence the name. Ghost ants have polygyne colonies (multiple queens in a single colony) with individual nests containing between 100-1000 workers. One colony may consist of several nests which readily exchange workers.

Pharaoh Ants

Description

Family: Formicidae

Scientific Name: Monomorium Pharaonis

Special characteristics:

Widely distributed, and their need for warm humid conditions means that in temperate lands they are confined to buildings. They forage on meat, cheese, fat, sugar, honey, jam etc. In hospital they will feed on blood, intravenous diet fluids. Dead insects, mice and droppings can also provide a food source.

 

Habitat

Infestations can be found in a wide variety of locations including residential blocks, hotels, hospitals, zoos and on board ships. In warmer climates infestations can be found outside. The insects are located in the fabric of buildings (wall voids, windows etc.), plants and sterile supplies. Infestations may be spread by way of service ducts (e.g. heating and electrical conduits). The ants forage for water around sinks and areas of condensation.

Biology and Behaviour

Workers 1.5-2mm long, yellow-brown with well-developed black eyes. Males 3mm long, black and winged. Queens 3.6-5mm long, dark red and winged. Winged Pharaoh ants do not fly. The queens can be replaced so colonies survive indefinitely. New colonies may be encouraged by disturbing the nests. These social insects live in colonies from a few dozen to 300,000 ants. The ants can survive low temperatures for prolonged periods where the works continue to forage for food. Materials may be damaged by chewing and the ants may bite children. Can penetrate plastic bags containing sterile dressings/instruments. Pharaoh ants pose a risk to health as pathogenic organisms may be transmitted as the ants feed in unhygienic places including drains, bins and wound dressings.

Flies

Cluster flies (Pollenia spp.) with golden hairs on thorax, body dull, tan to brownish black.

House (Musca domestica) and flesh (Sarcophaga spp.) flies with body dull, gray and black, thorax with 4 or 3 dorsal black stripes respectively.

Bluebottle flies, Calliphora terraenovae Macquart, C. vicina Robineau-Desvoidy, C. vomitoria (Linnaeus), etc. Adults about 1/4-9/16″ (6-14 mm) long; thorax dull, abdomen shiny metallic blue, lower squama/calypter (posterior basal wing lobes, posterior lobe) mostly dark; scutellum with 4-5 pairs of marginal bristles; found throughout the Uk

Blow fly disease carrying possibilities are often overlooked. Because many species feed on filth such as human excrement and sewage and/or develop in the carcasses of infect- ed animals, these flies may easily infect the food humans eat. Disease organisms may be mechanically  transferred  via  external  body  surfaces,  by  their   infected   fluids during frequent regurgitation, and/or by infected fecal deposits. The list of diseases associated with intestinal tract problems is nearly identical to that for the house fly, with some of the better known including Escherichia coli (Migula) and Shigella dysenteriae (Shiga) which cause diarrhea, and Vibrio comma (Schroeter) which causes cholera. Non- intestinal disease organisms include plague (Pasteurella pestis (Lehmann & Neumann)), anthrax (Bacillus anthracis Cohn), tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Zopf)), and tularemia (Pasteurella tularensis (McCoy & Chapin)).

HABITS

Most species develop in meat or animal carcasses, but if these are not available they will use animal excrement, decaying vegetation, and/or household rubbish . Dead rodents, birds, and other small animals can be the source of flies within structures while dog excrement and household rubbish  are common outdoor sources.

These flies are usually the first insects to arrive and infest after an animal dies. Their larvae are often used by forensic entomologists to help determine the time of death in murder cases.

Some species are strong fliers. For example, marked and released black blowflies (P. regina) had 13% trapped between 4-28 miles (6.4-46 km) from the point of origin and 8+% at or beyond 11 miles (18 km). Blow flies are most active on warm, sunny days, and primarily rest on cool and/or cloudy days. Inside, they are attracted to the bright light coming through windows.

Rats and mice

Rats

Norway (Rattus norvegicus) and roof/black (R. rattus) rats with body and head length 7-9.5″ (18-25 cm) and weigh 7-18+ oz (200-500+ g).

INTRODUCTION

The Norway rat is the largest of the commensal rodents and the most common commensal rat in the temperate regions of the world. It not only damages/destroys materials by gnawing, eats and contaminates stored food, but it is also of human health importance as a vector or carrier of diseases. It is thought to be of central Asian origin, but is now of worldwide distribution and found throughout the Uk.

Identification

Adult with combined head and body length 7-9.5″ (18-25 cm), tail length 6-8″ (15-21 cm), usual weight about 7-18 oz (200-500 g) but up to 20.5 oz (620 g). Fur coarse, shaggy, brown with scattered black hairs, with underside gray to yellowish white. With muzzle blunt, eyes small, ears small (do not reach eyes) and densely covered with short hairs. Heavy bodied. With scaly tail bicolored (darker above), shorter than head and body combined. Adult droppings up to 3/4″ (20 mm) long, capsule-shaped with blunt ends.

SIGNS OF INFESTATION

Gnaw marks. New gnawings or holes tend to be rough whereas, old gnawings are smooth from wear and old holes are often greasy.Droppings. Fresh droppings are soft and moist whereas, old droppings are dried and hard; adult Norway’s about 3/4″ (18-20 mm) with blunt ends vs. adult roof’s about 1/2″ (12-13 mm) with pointed ends.Tracks/footprints. Front foot 4-toed and print is in front of usually longer hind print with 5 toes. Fresh tracks are clear and sharp whereas, old tracks are at least partially obscured by dust.Rub marks or dark, greasy markings on vertical surfaces. Fresh marks are soft, greasy, and easily smeared whereas, old marks are with the grease dry and flaky.Burrows. Found in earthen banks, under concrete slabs, and under walls. If active, free of dust and cobwebs. Main opening usually with hard packed soil, rub marks may be visible. Runways. Consistently follow same paths, usually along walls, stacked merchandise, etc. Active runways with greasy appearance, free of dust and cobwebs, with fresh tracks and/or droppings. Damaged goods. Norway rats prefer meat, fish, and cereal (dry dog food a favourite) whereas, roof rats prefer fruits, vegetables, and cereals.

Roof rat (Rattus rattus) with muzzle pointed, eyes large, ears large, almost naked tail uniformly coloured and longer than head plus body, droppings spindle-shaped with pointed ends.

Most native rats and mice have hairy tails, hairs short or long, or if the tail is almost naked, it is also annulate (appears to be of ringlike segments).

BIOLOGY

Norway rats reach sexual maturity in 2-5 months. Pregnancy lasts an average of 23 days (range 21-25). The young/pups are blind and naked at birth. Hair appears in about 7 days and eyes open in 12-14 days. They are weaned at about 3-4 weeks and reach sexual maturity at 8-12 weeks. The average number of litters is 3-6 per year (range 3-12), each containing an average of 7-8 young (range 4-22), but averaging about 20 weaned/female/year. Adults live an average of 5-12 months in towns and cities, but much longer in captivity.

They have rather poor vision and are colour blind, but their senses of hearing, smell, touch, and taste are keenly developed. Touch is via their vibrissae or long whiskers. They are good runners, climbers, jumpers, and swimmers (documented record is 1,300 ft or 400 m across open ocean).

A Norway rat requires 3/4-1 oz (21-28 g) of food and 1/2-1 oz (15-30 ml) of water each day, with the water coming from a nonfood source. This results in about 30-180 droppings and 1/2 oz/3 teaspoons (16 cc) of urine produced each day.

Historically, the disease most commonly thought of involving rats (roof rat primarily) is plague which is transmitted via fleas leaving an infected rat and attacking man. Fortunately, plague has not been found in rats in the United States for many years. Other transmittable diseases include murine typhus via fleas (also possibly via droppings and urine), infectious jaundice/leptospirosis/Weil’s Disease via urine in water or food, rat-bite fever via bites, cowpox virus (CPXV) via direct contact, trichinosis via undercooked pork, and food poisoning or Salmonellosis via droppings. Another problem is tropical rat mite dermatitis that is caused by these mites when they feed on humans.

HABITS

Rats are primarily nocturnal in habit and they are cautious. Although they constantly explore their surroundings, they shy away from new objects and changes. Outdoors, Norway rats prefer to nest in burrows in the soil along railroad embankments, stream/river banks, piles of rubbish, under concrete slabs, etc. The burrow will have at least 1 entrance hole and at least 1 bolt-hole or emergency exit which is often hidden under grass, debris, etc. These are social animals and often many burrows will be located within a given area. An opening of greater than 1/2″ (12 mm) is required for entry into buildings. Indoors, Norway rats usually nest in basements and the lower portions of buildings in piles of debris or merchandise as long as it is not disturbed. Although Norway rats prefer the ground or lower levels of buildings and sewers, on occasion they may be found in attics, on roofs, and in other high places.

Norway rats are opportunistic feeders and although they will eat practically anything, they prefer meat, fish, and cereal. If the food material eaten proves to be disagreeable, they are quick to develop food/bait shyness. Once they find an acceptable/preferred food, rats tend to eat their fill in one or two visits and will return time after time; if the area of food is constantly disturbed, they may require several return visits to get their fill. They almost always require a non-food or separate source of water. Norway rats will travel about 100-150 ft (30.5-45.7 m) from their harbourage for food and/or water; in urban areas the average home range is about 25-100 ft (8-30.5 m). They will gnaw through almost anything to obtain food and/or water, even plastic or lead pipes.

Norway rats typically forage and feed at dusk and again prior to dawn, although they will forage several times each night and during the daytime. If the area is quiet and undisturbed, daytime activity may or may not indicate overpopulation. They do carry off food to less disturbed areas for consumption, or to hoard.

Once established, Norway rats tend to follow the same route or pathway between their harbourage and food and/or water sources. As often as possible, they follow vertical surfaces which their vibrissae or long whiskers can contact. Runways along vertical surfaces will usually include dark rub marks on the vertical surfaces where their oily fur makes contact. Their runway will be free of debris, and outdoors, the grass will be worn away to the bare soil.

Mouse

House mouse (Mus musculus) with muzzle pointed, ears large, tail about as long as head plus body, small (about 1/2-1 oz/14-28 g), shorter (head, body and tail 5.25- 7.5″/6.5-10.2 cm), droppings 1/8-1/4″ (3-6 mm) long, rod-shaped with pointed ends.

INTRODUCTION

The house mouse is the most commonly encountered and economically important of the commensal rodents, the Norway and roof/black rats being the other two. House mice are not only a nuisance, damage/destroy materials by gnawing, and eat and contaminate stored food, they are also of human health importance as disease carriers or vectors. It is thought to be of Central Asian origin, but is now of worldwide distribution and found throughout the UK.

Identification

Adult with head and body length 2.5-3.75″ (6.5-9.5 cm), tail length 2.75-4″ (7-10.2 cm), weight about 0.5-1.1 oz (12-30 g). Fur smooth, colour usually dusty grey above and light grey or cream on belly (some mice light brown to dark grey above), but fur colour varies considerably from area to area or location to location regardless of living habits. With muzzle pointed, eyes small, incisors ungrooved, ears large with some hair. Feet short and broad. With a uniformly dark, scaly, semi-naked tail. Adult droppings 1/8-1/4″ (3-6 mm) long, rod-shaped, with pointed  ends,

 

SIGNS OF INFESTATIONS gnaw marks. New gnawing’s or holes tend to be rough whereas, old gnawing’s are smooth from wear. Droppings. Fresh droppings are soft and moist whereas, old droppings are dried and hard; house mouse’s about 1/8-1/4″ (3-6 mm) long, rod shaped, and with pointed ends vs American cockroach about 1/8″ (3 mm) long and with ridges. Tracks/footprints. Front foot 4-toed and print is in front of hind print with 5-toes. Fresh tracks are clear and sharp whereas, old tracks are at least partially obscured by dust. Rub marks. These are usually less noticeable and smaller in size than those of rats. Burrows. Indoors they often nest in various materials such as insulation. If active, free of dust and cobwebs. Entrance usually with material packed/compressed, rub marks sometimes visible. Runways. Frequently use the same paths, usually along walls, stacked merchandise, etc., and to interior objects. Active runways free of dust and cobwebs, with fresh droppings. Tracks may or may not be visible. Damaged goods. Mice prefer seeds or cereals, but will readily eat insects trapped on glue boards, leaving only some legs and antennae

BIOLOGY

The house mouse is a prolific breeder. They reach sexual maturity in 35 days and mate when 6-10 weeks old. Pregnancy lasts an average of 19 days (range 18- 21). The young are blind and naked except for vibrissae (long whiskers), and are weaned at about 21 days (range 3-4 weeks). The average litter size is 6 (range 5-8), with about 8 litters per year, but averaging 30-35 weaned/female/year. Therefore, a female can have a new litter about once every 40-50 days. More than 1 litter may be present in the nest at one time. Life expectancy is normally less than 1 year, but mice have been known to live as long as 6 years.

Mice have keen senses, except for sight because they cannot see clearly beyond 6″ (15 cm) and are colour blind. They are excellent climbers and can run up most roughened walls. Mice can swim but prefer not to do so. They can jump 12″ (30.5 cm) high and can jump down from about 8 ft (2.5 m) high without injury. Mice can survive and thrive in cold storage facilities at 14°F (-10°C). They can run horizontally along pipes, ropes, and wires. A mouse requires about 1/10 oz (2.8 g) of dry food and 1/20 oz (1.5  ml)  of  water (normally obtained from food) each day and produces about 50 droppings each  day.

Over a 6-month period, a pair of mice will eat about 4 pounds (1.8 kg) of food, produce about 18,000 droppings, and void about 3/4 pint/12 oz. (355 ml) of urine.The most common way mice transmit disease organisms is by contaminating food with their droppings and/or urine.

The most threatening organism spread by mice is Salmonella, a cause of food poisoning, spread via droppings. Other transmittable organisms include tapeworms via droppings, rat-bite fever via bites, infectious jaundice/leptospirosis/Weil’s Disease via urine in food or water, a fungus disease (Favus) of the scalp either by direct contact or indirectly via cats, plague and murine typhus via fleas, Rickettsial pox via the mite Liponyssoides sanguineus (Hirst), lymphocytic choriomeningitis via droppings, and possibly poliomyelitis (polio). Another problem is house mouse mite dermatitis which is caused by these mites when they feed on humans.

HABITS

Mice are very social. Related males and females are compatible, but unrelated male mice are typically very aggressive toward one another. Social hierarchies with one male dominating lower-ranking males result in the maintenance of territories, which may include a large number of females as well as lower-ranking males, most of which will be related. All mature mice tend to show aggression towards strangers of either sex that enter their territory, which is marked with urine. Territory size  varies  but  it  is  usually relatively small. If food and shelter are plentiful, they may not travel more than 4-5 feet (1.2-1.5 m) from their nests.

Mice are inquisitive. During the daily territorial patrol, they will explore anything new or changed, and establish new travel routes if needed. Mice are nibblers and eat only small amounts of food at any one time or place. Although mice will eat many kinds of food, seeds and insects are usually preferred. They are opportunistic feeders and should one food disappear, they will readily switch to another food. There are 2 main feeding periods, at dusk and just before dawn, with many other “mini” feeding times in between. They will sample new foods but return to the old food unless the new food is preferred. Required moisture is normally obtained from their food but they will take free water when available, especially when feeding on high-protein food. When given a choice, they prefer sweetened liquids over plain water.

Their preferred nesting sites are dark, secluded places where there is abundant nesting material nearby and little chance of disturbance. Nesting materials include paper products, cotton, packing materials, wall/attic insulation, fabrics, etc. Mice are nocturnal in habit. They require an opening of greater than 1/4″ (6 mm) to gain entry.

In rural and suburban areas, the house mouse lives outdoors in wooded areas, fields, croplands, yards, etc., where they build their nest in vegetative debris, natural cavities, burrows, etc. Here they feed on seeds and insects. Since the house mouse cannot hibernate, in temperate areas they seek shelter as the weather cools and their food sources disappear. Around structures, they follow warm air currents and food odours coming out through door thresholds, utility line entrances, etc. into a suitable site. If the entrance has been marked by previous mice, it’s just that much more attractive. In urban areas, they commonly come in from other structures via utility connections, or from other parts of the same structure. In commercial structures, mice are commonly also brought in with supplies and/or equipment.

Bird control

 

Pigeons were bred from the European rock dove and introduced as a domestic bird into North America circa 1606. They are now found feral/wild in virtually every city and in most rural areas. Pigeons are of medical concern because more than 50 diseases and ectoparasites have been associated with pigeons, their nests, and droppings. Probably the best known is the lung disease histoplasmosis. They are worldwide in distribution.

Idenditication

Adults average about 13″ (33 cm) long; average weight about 13 oz (368 g). Stocky/robust, with a short rounded fanlike tail. Color varies from white to black but usually bluish gray with black bands, 2 narrow cross bands on each wing and a broad terminal tail band, white rump, and reddish feet, head dark and often with greenish-purplish iridescence on neck. Each of 2 legs short, bearing 1 rear-projecting and 3 forward-projecting toes. Body and wings covered with feathers and horny bill short, lacking teeth. Voice soft, with guttural series of rolling coos.

BIOLOGY

Pigeons are monogamous, pairing for life. About 8-12 days after mating, typically 2 (range 1-2) white eggs are laid per clutch in the nest. Eggs require about 17- 19 days incubation. Hatchlings (squabs) are almost featherless and are totally dependent on the parent birds for warmth and food. For the first 5 days, hatchlings are fed predigested food called “pigeon milk” that is produced in the parent’s crop. For the next 5 days, water and grain are added to their milk, and finally they are fed only grain and water. Young pigeons usually make their first flight when about 35-37 days old, but may leave the nest when 4-6 weeks old. Several broods are reared each year with more eggs being laid before the proceeding brood is weaned. Breeding is year round but peaks in the spring and summer. Wild pigeons often live for 15 years and captive pigeons for 30 years or more. In the urban setting, pigeons usually live for 3-4 years.

Pigeons have colour vision, a hearing range very close to that of humans, and have poorly developed senses of taste and smell. Although they cannot think, pigeons are capable of conditioned learning.

Pigeons, their nests, and droppings are of medical concern because of the over 50 diseases and ectoparasites associated with them. Diseases include encephalitis (St. Louis, eastern and western equine), histoplasmosis, Newcastle disease, chlamydiosis, and salmonellosis which can affect human and animal health, and severe cases may result in death. The ectoparasites include mites and ticks that often bite humans or infest domestic animals, causing extreme discomfort. Other arthropods, such as dermestid beetles, clothes moths, flies, and stored product pests, associated with the nests and droppings may invade structures.

HABITS

Along with damage and nuisance problems, there are 4 behavioural habits requiring consideration. These are feeding, nesting, roosting, and loafing. Pigeons prefer to feed on seeds, grain, some fruit, and green feed. However, they will readily feed on garbage, animal matter such as insects and spiders, livestock manure, and many other foods when their preferred food is scarce. Pigeons prefer flat or smooth surfaces, such as roof tops, for feeding. They also consume enough grit to ensure proper digestion. An adult consumes about 1 lb/453 g of food per week. Feeding may occur near the nesting or roosting site(s), but often it is done some distance away.

Nests are loosely constructed and usually consist of sticks, stems, leaves, and other debris. They are built on ledges of structures or cliffs, or in caves. The abundance of cliff like nesting sites, especially on older buildings, is one of the primary factors that attract pigeons to cities. Often nesting and roosting occur in the same general area, but they can be distant.Roosting sites are where pigeons rest or sleep. They usually involve some kind of perch that is often high off the ground, such as exposed roof girders, protected ledges, etc. Roosting sites may or may not be near nesting, feeding, or loafing areas.

Loafing is loosely defined as when pigeons are not feeding, nesting, or roosting. Loafing may occur almost anywhere pigeons are not constantly disturbed. Pigeons have very acidic droppings which can deface marble, limestone, painted surfaces, statues, car finishes, etc. Fresh droppings can cause objectionable odours and slippery situations on sidewalks, roads, fire escapes, and other flat surfaces. Droppings, feathers, and nesting materials can contaminate unprocessed grain and packaged foods. Pigeons also have diseases, ectoparasites, and other pests associated with them as mentioned above. Although of minor importance, pigeons can be a problem around airports, especially if there is a garbage dump, railroad siding, or grain field nearby.

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